Vegan Eating in Cape Town

My group of 6 that I traveled to Cape Town with included 2 vegetarians, 3 carnivores and me, a veganere (yeah I just made that up) who sometimes cheats with seafood.  Finding places to eat where we all could enjoy our meals may seem tiresome but we made it work.  In this post, I will highlight a few places where we ate, some vegan, some mixed, and my review of them.

Before I get into to these reviews, I need to first recommend an app my girlfriend put me on on to: Happy Cow.  Make sure to download this app when you are traveling to find local vegan spots and restaurants that offer vegan and vegetarian options.  It will come in handy.  Although, I had done some research on some places to eat vegan in Cape Town, the app proved extremely helpful to finding spots that were close to wherever I was located.  Okay, on to the good stuff.

Restaurant: Hungry Herbivore– it is a bit unfair to start with this one because in my opinion it is the best but it was also the first restaurant we visited in Cape Town.   We went for an early dinner.

Location: They have two locations.  We visited the one located at 11 Orphan Street.

Ambiance: It’s a intimate restaurant with table and bar seating.

Service: The service is good.  Servers bring you menus and explain them while also offering their preferences.

Food (click food to see the menu): Amazing.  Go more than once and try everything.  Personally I recommend the fries, loaded or regular, Oh Sweet Kim Burger, french toast and The Cleanse- fresh juice (best green drink I ever had).  My only regret is that I was too full for dessert.

Hearts: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

IMG_0127

Image result for hungry herbivore

Image result for hungry herbivore

IMG_0134

IMG_0136

Restaurant: Royale Eatery– a burger joint that offers carnivore, vegetarian and vegan options.  We went for lunch while shopping on Long Street.

Location: 273 Long Street

Ambiance: Inside has a diner feel with booths and regular seating.

Service: The service was good but my husband ordered a salad and it took the longest.  Our waitress was nice and when we told her we ate at the Hungry Herbivore, her face cringed.  I guess they are in competition for the best vegan burgers.  Sorry Royale Eatery, the Hungry Herbivore has you beat.

Food: The food was good.  I must compliment them on their extensive menu and variety of burgers.

Hearts: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Related image  20180331_143637-1.jpg

Hungover or not, we've got your Saturday covered. Our kitchen opens at 12 noon so come through for a burger feast!

Restaurant: The Old Biscuit Mill. While this is not really a restaurant it is more of a collection of restaurants.  It gets honorable mention because all of us were able to get good food here and it is not to be missed on your trip to Cape Town.

Location: 375 Albert Road, Woodstock Cape Town

Ambiance: It is outside but with tent coverings and stores to go into, you can escape the heat.  There is live music and wonderful people everywhere.  There are clothing and art shops.  There is food for everyone as well as drinks.

Service: Well it’s pretty crowded but we never waited in line for more than 10 minutes to get anything.

Food: There is all kinds of food, from bison to sushi.  I enjoyed a vegan edo wrap which was very delicious and some Sangria which was also so delicious I went back for seconds.  I purchased some vegan desserts to take back to our Airbnb but they were not good.  I wish I remembered the name of the restaurant, so I could tell you not to go there.

Hearts: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (The distasteful vegan dessert made me take away a heart but the Old Biscuit Mill really deserves 5)

IMG_0169

Restaurant: Tasha’s– contemporary, urban, boutique café.  Everyone that I spoke to prior to going to Cape Town talked about this Butternut Squash Salad that I just had to get at Tashas.

Location: Several locations around the world, from Johannesburg to Abu Dhabi.  We visited the one at the Shop 7117, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town.

Ambiance: Warm and welcoming with flower pots hanging from the ceiling and plants around.  You can sit inside or out.

Service: The service was slow at first but then it picked up.

Food: Of course I had the Butternut Squash salad.  That’s the featured image above.  The salad did not disappoint.  I’ve never tasted butternut squash semi charred, sweet and delicate.  It was a nice addend to a salad.   I also had some beer-battered cauliflower which was yummy.  I would definitely return to Tasha’s for more.

Hearts: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Screen Shot 2018-05-06 at 5.18.33 PM.png

Restaurant: We went to Jarryds, Espresso Bar and Eatery.  A restaurant that boast a commitment to sourcing locally produced and seasonal produce.

Location: 90 Regent Rd, Sea Point, Cape Town

Ambiance: The restaurant reminded me of a train station stop, glass encased and airy, tall vaulted ceilings and seating for large groups.

Service: The service was great with several people attending to us.

Food: I was disappointed that the only true vegan item on the menu for breakfast that I wanted to order was no longer available- The Vegan ‘Nice’ Cream Slice.  Instead I ordered The Summer Quinoa Breakfast bowl without the poached egg.  The breakfast bowl was great and my husband’s potatoes were too.  Everyone enjoyed their meal and wished we had come sooner because we were leaving Cape Town that day.

Afterwards, we met Jarryd and he was sorry about the breakfast item.  He assured me that next time, I could request to speak with the chef or himself and they would make accommodations to suit my preference.

20180406_093215.jpg

20180406_090833.jpg

Hearts: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (normally I would take a heart due to not having what I wanted but because everything else was so good and they were so nice, 5 hearts)

We visited other restaurants but I didn’t feel like they deserved to be discussed in detail.  I really wish we had an authentic African dining experience.  We visited an Ethiopian restaurant, Addis in Cape, but I was disappointed as outside of salads there wasn’t any options for me.  Cape Town is a real gamey eating city, so carnivores will love it and can experience something new and different.  We vegans have a little bit of a tougher time as usual.

 

I Climbed Table Mountain

It was 7:00 a.m.; the sun was rising and there were no clouds in sight.  We picked the perfect day to climb Table Mountain.  I really didn’t know what to expect.  One of my travel buddies had done some research and said he found the perfect route for us to hike up the mountain.  He said it would take approximately 2-3 hours.  There is no way climbing a mountain is going to take that long, I thought.  We had also read that people had been robbed on the trail so we left our cameras in the car and didn’t take anything of value with us.  Since we planned to take the Aerial Cableway back down, we drove up to its entrance and parked.  I dressed in some work out clothes, jacket, sunglasses and sneakers and with a water bottle in one hand and my phone in the other we began our trek.

IMG_20180403_121329_674.jpg

We took the Platteklip Gorge route.  There were plenty of people also hiking on this day that we saw at the beginning and throughout the hike.   The trail is not straight.  It has turns and twist, rocks and boulders and a constant uphill incline.  At some points I could walk straight up and down and at others I had to crawl on all fours.  Some of the trail has small fences on either side, but much of the trail does not.  I had to stop several times throughout to catch my breath as it can be quite exhausting.  Your mind can also play tricks on you which could lead to a panic attack for some.   I had to force myself to continue looking forward to ward off a panic attack of my own.  It is definitely not for the faint of heart.    I was doing good until I asked one of our friends how much further we had to go, and he said “we are about halfway there”.   I couldn’t believe that we only traveled halfway up the mountain.  It had been at least an hour or more.  I knew for sure we were almost there.  I regretted asking because at that very moment knowing as far as I’d come, I wanted to turn back.  Then some people were coming down the mountain and we sparked a conversation with some.  One gentleman was on his 100th hike.  He said he was with the charity group.   He was no spring chicken and if he could do it, so could I.  Well maybe not 100 times but I could definitely do it, just this once.  I pushed forward and up, sweating, panting and self-motivating.  I took in the sites of Cape Town below my feet.  I started to enjoy the journey and the scenery and stopped focusing on the end.

20180403_081738.jpg

20180403_075602.jpg

20180403_090450.jpg

That was until I saw something unfamiliar, big and brown in my peripheral.  I yelled and ran with new energy.  I ran passed my friends and up some boulders until it was out of my sight.  Later my friend told me that it was a rock hyrax.  (a small furry diurnal animal belonging to the Provavidae family, more commonly known as a dassie. Although it resembles a small rabbit, the dassie is actually a hoofed mammal related to the elephant. It has a short, furry body with short hoofed legs and a small tail-  https://www.tablemountain.net/blog/entry/table-mountain-for-nature-lovers)  At the time, I didn’t know what it was; I just knew I wanted no parts of it.  I think it gave me the boost I needed.

A short while later, a coupled passed us and I asked the women if she could let out a small yelp when she got to the top, so I could hear how much further we had to go.  Sensing we were nearing the top, I began to move faster.  Then some relief was upon us, cool rocks and water dripping from them.  I pressed my revealed skin on the cool, wet rocks and sat in the shade for a short while, gazing upon the trek behind me, down the mountain and through the gorge.  We had come a long way!

IMG-20180404-WA0005.jpg

20180403_110756.jpg

20180403_100454.jpg

20180403_083831.jpg

A few minutes later I heard the yelp in the near distance.  A few winding paths later, we made it to the top!  We had climbed Table Mountain.  It took us 2.5 hours.  Our two other friends said they had been waiting for us for over an hour.  Picture my eyes rolling.

20180403_105947.jpg

IMG-20180404-WA0025.jpg

It really is like a table at the top of the mountain.  You can walk around and see Cape Town from all angles, tiny houses below, trees and the sea.  I can only imagine what the scene looks like at sunset.

IMG-20180404-WA0006.jpg

IMG_20180403_121329_669.jpg

IMG-20180404-WA0028.jpg

We grabbed some food from the restaurant and took in the sites before buying our tickets for the aerial cableway to ride back down.  There was a delay because some crazy person decided to light a few fires on the mountain and they spread rather quickly, due to the dry climate.  We could see smoke and fire from the top and had to wait until the fire fighters brought in water via helicopters to get the fires under control before they would allow the cable cars to run again.  Eventually we were able to ride down, right passed the fires.  It was kind of unnerving to know the mountain we had just climbed was now burning.  Thankfully, no injuries were reported and the culprit was caught.   The ride down on the cable car was quick and I was happy that we climbed the mountain up because although the view from the top of Table Mountain is quite beautiful, it fails in comparison to the excitement of the journey of the climb up the mountain.

20180403_124158.jpg

20180403_125226.jpg

Would I hike it again?  When I was asked this question right after we came down, I said NO, rather quickly.  But if you ask me that question now…I’d say YES!  It was worth it.  I can honestly say, I climbed the infamous Table Mountain!

Side notes: Despite the stories of robberies on the mountain, we never felt unsafe.  There were always plenty of people on the trail.  Bring some cash or a credit card to purchase snacks and drinks at the top of the mountain.  Stay hydrated by carrying and drinking plenty of water.  Wear comfortable footwear with grips.  Bring sunglasses.  Don’t forget your camera.  Tell Mr. Hyrax I said hello.  If you’re thinking about climbing Table Mountain, Do It!

IMG_20180403_121329_670.jpg

 

Is it Better to be Beautiful or Confident

I’m 5’2, 40 years old, 140 lbs, brown skin, and bald. 

No, I do not think I’m beautiful,

but what I lack in physical attractiveness,

I make up for in behavioral confidence. 

I may not be your cup of tea,

but for some men and even women,

I have something that attracts them to me. 

I keep my head high, as if I’m holding up a crown,

because there is always someone waiting for you to fall on the ground.

I walk like I’m a model,

5’9, slender and tall

but I’m really 5’2, 40 years old, 140 lbs, brown skin and bald!

Kennesha Bell

Modeling will never be my career but I’ve always dreamed of doing it, so when a few weeks ago an associate posted in the BSOQ group that a designer was looking for some models for an upcoming fashion show, I said why not.  I entered my information, sent my measurements and a full body shot.  And some weeks later, I was going for my first fitting.  A day later, my second fitting.  And two days ago, I modeled in the the South African Freedom Day – Nelson Mandela Centenary Celebration at the Ritz Carlton Doha.  The Designers were South African brand Urban Zulu and Qatar-based Nigerian Designer Romeo Ekene Paul from Romeo Paul.  It was so much fun!  I walked out amongst the crowd like I had been modeling all my life, like I had hair down to my ass, like I was American’s Top Model, like I was the most beautiful creature created and the crowd loved it!  I received so many compliments afterwards and honestly if I never model again, it will be okay because how many people can say, they’re living out their dreams.

WELL I AM!

Check out some photos from the fashion show.

IMG_0663

IMG_0680

IMG_0703

IMG_0710

IMG_0736

IMG_0763

Here are some pictures of some of the other models:

I’d love to hear from you…What are your thoughts, is it better to be beautiful or confident?

How I Spent 7 Days in Cape Town, South Africa

I don’t really know when or why South Africa made it to my Top 5 List of Places to Visit but now that’d I’ve been, I can’t tell you how happy I am that it was.  I’m not in the habit of visiting the same place twice, that is except for Jamaica, but I do plan to return to Cape-Town.   After spending a week there, my desire to see Africa has increased tremendously.  I want to see more of this continent, Botswana, Namibia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria.  I would love for my next move to be some place in Africa.

At first I was a little apprehensive about visiting Cape Town while the city was in the middle of a water crisis but everything we read said go anyway, so we did.  We were a group of 6 so we needed a comfortable place to stay that would give everyone their own space.  We booked an Airbnb and an eight passenger van.  We planned to do most of the driving ourselves even though it was on the opposite side of the street and none of us had ever driven on that side before.  We figured it would be all part of the adventure.  Most of the planning of our itinerary we did in advance.  We were ready and excited!!!

Yeah a lot like this!!

Before our flight, I exchanged money at the airport.  The official currency for Cape Town is the South African Rand.  Unfortunately, the kiosk was out of South African Rand so the next best thing, according to the CSR, was to exchange for Euros.  One ZAR is equal to about 0.067 Euros, or 0.083 USD.  I also took my credit/debit cards.

With only one daily, nonstop, 10 hour flight from Doha to Cape Town, leaving at 1:55 a.m., I swallowed two Tylenol PM’s and slept half the flight away.  I was hoping to have a row to myself; I mean how many people travel to Cape Town on a Friday morning anyway, well enough to fill up an Airbus to my surprise.  About 10 minutes into the flight, I was really missing first class. (To read about my experiences in first class click here)

Cape Town is only an hour behind Doha, so we arrived around 11:00 a.m.  We did not require a visa and going through immigration was quick and painless.  I exchanged my EURO’s for ZAR with no problem at the airport and was able to access the local currency through the ATM.  Since we weren’t staying at a hotel, I knew that having cash on hand would be best.  We walked over to Bidvest, our car rental agency, via an underground walkway and picked up our van.

Afterwards we followed Google Maps (I highly recommend downloading this app before you travel), and admired the new scenery on our way to our temporary home.  Btw, the place was perfect.  It was located within a 10 minute drive to the V&A Waterfront, just below Table Mountain and Signal hill, and within 5 minutes of Bo-Kaap.  The townhouse had 3 bedrooms, each with their own en-suites, a balcony with a good view of the city, a fully-equipped kitchen, a rooftop pool and patio (although we couldn’t use the pool due to the water shortage), windows that people could get a glimpse of you showering through, and oh btw, we had a tree in our house.  You heard me right, a tree.  Take a look at this video.

Andrew, our host, was great.  Here is a link to the Airbnb we stayed  and use my link to get $40 in travel credit when you book your next stay using Airbnb.

Arrival day:

We settled into our place, found a vegan place to eat (The Hungry Herbivore) and drove around to check out our neighborhood.  I’ll tell you about the vegan eating scene in Cape Town in a later post. [check back for that one]

Day 1 Shopping Saturday:

Everyone that we knew from South Africa recommended me check out this place called the Old Biscuit Mill or the Neighborgoods market which is only open on Saturday, thus the title of the day.  This is a place not to be missed.  Good for: trying different foods and drinks, people-watching, listening to live entertainment, shopping (although the products are a little on the expensive side for the goods).  The food we ate was delicious except for the vegan dessert but the sangria made up for it.

IMG_0165

IMG_0166

Afterwards, we made our way to LongMarket Street.  This was a better place to shop in my opinion.  It was like a huge flea market down town with a mix of stalls with hand-made products and regular stores.  The GreenMarket Square is the best place for tourist shopping of souvenirs.  You will find jewelry, clothing, african material, magnets, art, hand bags, and all sorts of knick knacks.  I purchased an ankara dress for 250 zar (20 usd) compared to the 650 zar (54 usd) I spent on an ankara skirt at the Old Biscuit Mill.  Both of which were a really good price but you get the point.   If you’ve ever been to a port of call off of a cruise ship in the Caribbean island, you can get some sense of what this market square is like but with a little less hasseling.  Be sure to negotiate your prices.  [I was able to negotiate a piece of art down to 50%] But a couple of us gave the seller our business in turn.

20180331_134805-2.jpg

Running low on energy and our allotment of the day’s spending, we walked around Long street and found a spot to eat (Royale Eatery), a burger spot with vegan and vegetarian options.  In the shopping center you had to pay 2 Rand to use the bathroom. If you are going to Cape Town, it would be best to carry some of their change in case you need to use the WC (wash closet), some wipes or tissue in case there isn’t any and some hand sanitizer as some of the faucets were turned off to conserve water.

Day 2 Safari Sunday:

Our day started with a drive to Bo-Kaap.  (Click here to learn all about Bo-Kaap)  It’s a beautiful area filled with colorful houses in the creases of Signal Hill.  If you are ever in South Africa, be sure to walk through this area and take many pictures like I did.

IMG_0196

IMG-20180401-WA0019.jpg

IMG_0187

IMG_0215

IMG-20180401-WA0023.jpg

Then we went to Signal Hill. Well we didn’t actually go to the very top of it but we went pretty close.  Here is one of the spots with the best views of Cape Town.  Take a look for yourself.

IMG_0233

IMG_0231

IMG_0238

IMG_0242

If I’m ever in Cape Town again, I will return to Signal Hill and go to the top at night or in the early morning to watch the sunrise over this picturesque city.  Simply breathtaking.

Since there were no decent safari options close to Cape Town, we opted for a Game reserve.  Let me tell you what the difference is between a Safari and a Game Reserve.  A safari is a experience where you can view wild animals in their natural habitat without fences.  A game reserve is privately owned and operated.  In this instance, the owners know exactly what animals are on the property and work to make the environment suitable for them.  (Basically a wider scale zoo)  But we weren’t going to Africa without seeing some animals.  Had I done proper research, I might have opted to go to Johannesburg instead.  Nah, I probably still wouldn’t gone to Cape Town.

Anyway, we booked a sunset Game Drive with Aquila Private Game Reserve in advance. (to learn more about Aquila, click on the name).  Aquila was a very scenic 2 hour drive away.  My eyes were glued to the window or my camera lens the entire drive.  We drove past farms, and settlements (you can read about the settlements by clicking here, I don’t know much about them and honestly the sight of them made me sad so I’m not going to touch that subject), over and through mountains and towns.  I enjoyed seeing many colors and various landforms contrary to my current home.  Aquila is not only a Game Reserve, it also a resort that you can stay on.  There is a swimming pool, bar, restaurant, single cabins on a hill and hotel rooms.

A tour guide carried us and a small group in a 4X4 safari vehicle through the fences to see the animals.  We saw hippos, an ostrich, antelopes, elephants, wildebeast, giraffes and oryx.  We made a pit stop during the reserve and enjoyed libations.  Lastly, we pulled up to a large fence and saw a lion inside and thought that would be the end of it, but then we pulled into that fence and watched as the tour guide got out of the vehicle and locked the other fence behind us.  For a second, I thought being fed to lions would be a horrible way to go.  But then he told us, as long as we stay inside the vehicle, the lions sees us as one but the moment one of us gets out, we are considered fair gain.  As we drove through the huge area, we saw several more lions.   They seemed to put on a show, as they meandered around and sat near us basking in the sunset, then one started howling.  Show off!!!  We left the ‘lions den’ after some time and continued through the reserve.  We spotted rhinos and their babies and zebras too.   As the sun went down on our day, we proceeded home.  Of the Big Five, we only missed the leopard and cape buffalo but it was a fun time.  Enjoy this slide show.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here’s my friend Leo showing off.

Since I’ve never been to a real safari, I don’t really have anything to compare Aquila Game Reserve to.  But what I will say is, I’m not returning back to Africa without visiting one.

Day 3 Mandela Monday:

Monday was reserved to visit Robben Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Sight and prison where Nelson Mandela and many other men were incarcerated for political offenses.  This is another must see while in Cape Town. We booked our tickets at www.robben-island.org.za.  We took a ferry 30 minutes out from Cape Town and arrived on the island.  Our first stop was the Prison, where a former prisoner gave us a tour and recount of some of the events that transpired there.  He was very passionate and informative.  I don’t know if I could go back and work in the same place that imprisoned me for year.  He not only works there but also lives on the island as do many other former prisoners.  Our tour included a visit to the cell where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned as well.  Afterwards, we had a rushed tour of the island.  Our ferry was late from the jump to transport us to the island then our tour bus was late picking us up to take us on the rest of the tour.  But listening to this man talk made the trip worth it, but I would have really liked more time on the island.  I recommend taking one of the early morning tours of the island versus the 1 or 3 p.m. ones.

IMG_0474.JPG
The Crew

Coincidently, on our way back from Robben island we received a news alert that Winnie Mandela had passed away that same day.  RIP Winnie.

Day 4 Trekken Tuesday:

A visit to Cape Town is incomplete without going to Table Mountain. But not only did I  ‘go’ to Table Mountain, I CLIMBED IT, All The Way To The Top.  And it is way too big and important to just get a piece of this blog post.  It needs it’s own post.  So sorry wonderful followers, you will have to check back for that one.  BTW, that’s me and my friend Britney taking a rest halfway through the climb, in the featured image at the top.

After trekken Table Mountain, and a quick wardrobe change, we went to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.  Britney, our flower enthusiast, really wanted to go.  She makes it her business to visit botanical gardens when she travels and now she has made me a convert.  When I was younger, my family and I used to go to the annual flower show in Philadelphia but that was the extent of my knowledge.  But a botanical garden is on a higher level.  I even found a flower named after my sister, Ericka. This is another must do while in Cape Town.

IMG_0510
Enjoying the view 

IMG_0503

IMG_0501

Here is the famous Kirstenbosch Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway- enjoy the slide show

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Next up was Chapman’s Peak, a scenic drive on the side of a mountain.  You pay a small toll before you start the drive.  We had to pay 45 Rand because we were were driving a van.  The route is also patrolled.  Vehicles drive from both directions as well as bikes and motorcycles.  Don’t fall asleep on this road or you probably won’t wake up.  It’s a little unnerving but Britney’s husband Quahn handled it with ease while Britney closed her eyes at several points during the drive.  Neither of us wanted to take that same route back home.

We rode Chapman’s Peak, then through Simons Town, a maritime naval town, to Boulders Beach, a sheltered beach made up of inlets between granite boulders.  It is here where the African colony of penguins live.  Unfortunately, we went to the website which said the beach would close at 6, we arrived at 5 and were told it was closed.  Sad faces.  I’m seeing a pattern that arriving early for sights in Cape Town is best.  Thankfully, a few rebellious penguins were around the area and I was able to get a few photos of them.

IMG_0549IMG_0552IMG_0555IMG_0557

To end our day, we went to the Waterfront to enjoy a seafood dinner.  It was the most expensive meal we had during our stay and while it was good, it wasn’t worth the price.  We ate at the Harbour house.  We figure the location had something to do with the price, and we were spoiled with the cheap prices of eating thus far.  Check back for a post on how this shady vegan faired during her stay in Cape Town.

Day 5 Wino Wednesday:

Apparently, according to Vogue, Cape town is “home to some of the most prestigious wineries on the planet” (www.vogue.com) so of course we wanted to see for ourselves.  We scheduled 3 wine tours in one day.  We would drive in a big circle.

Our first stop was Chamonix located in  Franschhoek.  Its a small farm and winery and the most expensive of our three tours. (100 Rand pp)  We tried 6 wines and didn’t like any of them.  We sat on wooden benches infested with some sort of green baby bugs.  Then we walked through the wine cellar and out to the vineyard.  It was pretty but unimpressive.

IMG_0568

Stop #2 was Babylonstoren. It is a Cape Dutch farm that also has wine tastings.  You walk through the farmland to get to a glass encasement which is where the tasting takes place. We also taste tested 6 wines here and did not like any of them either.  However, the place is beautiful and the vibe nice.  We didn’t get any food but the service was on point.  We needed to taste quickly so that we could make it to our last stop and the waitress was on it.  This place was much cheaper than Chamonix, (we paid 35 Rand pp) and better.  They have a farm, hotel, spa and restaurant.  Our experiences were gradually improving.

Our last stop on Winery Wednesday was to Waterford Estate.  This winery was by far the best of the 3.  We pulled up and were like “WOW! Now this is more like it.”  We had two tastings scheduled here: regular tasting of 6 wines and then a chocolate pairing tasting with an additional 6 wines.  We actually got to taste 14 wines and on the 14th tasting, we found a wine we liked.  It was sweet and very tasty and the chocolate that went with it was delicious too.  We paid for some bread with balsamic because by then we were famished and the ‘wine’ needed some food.  Even the bread was great!  Our waiter was an infectious young lad that entertained us.  We walked around the vineyard for a little while and met a family that lived in Cape Town.  They invited us to their beach house and if we had met them earlier on our trip, we would have taken them up on their offer.

IMG_0586

Our day ended with half of us finding some vegan food and the other half finding some chicken and a resounding toast and other debauchery on the rooftop enjoying the night view.

Day 6 Thrill Seeking Thursday or Bust:

Is a trip complete without indulging in something thrill-seeking? What is your opinion on this?  Well, our Thrill Seeking Thursday was a Bust.  With all of our planning, we never locked in an actual event and our quest to find thrills was unsuccessful, that is of course outside of Table Mountain (check back for the full story on that).  I wanted to take a gyroflight but wasn’t sure if I’d actually have the heart to do it.  We all wanted to do ATV’s or Tree Canopies or both but when we drove to a place that offered it, over an hour away, no one was there.  So instead of doing nothing, we headed back down to Long street for more shopping.

Day 7 Farewell Friday:

On our last day, we packed up, said goodbye to our Cape Town home and got some breakfast.  This was an unusually long post, I know, but thanks for sticking in there with me.  Hands down, the worst part of vacation is leaving and returning to everyday life.  Perhaps one day, vacation and everyday life will be one.  That is my goal!

In all, I had an amazing time in Cape Town and traveled with a very fun group.  I see a second trip to Africa in my very near future.

Here is a list of things I wanted to do but missed: Visit Philadelphia-Town in South Africa, that many South Africans don’t even know exist.  I wanted to go just so I could say I was home in Philadelphia but really I wouldn’t have been.  Drive to Cape Agulhas- the geographic southern tip of the African continent and the beginning of the dividing line between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.  Visit Cape of Good Hope- rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula. A common misconception is that the Cape of Good Hope is the southern tip of Africa.  Relax at Camps Bay Beach.  Drive over Bloukrans bridge.  Eat at Willoughby’s.  There is a lot you can see and do in 7 days in Cape Town but you will also miss things.  Until next time…

I would love to hear from you.  Have you ever traveled to Cape Town or any part of Africa? What was your experience like?

IMG_0585
I absolutely love this picture that I took on the way to Boulders Beach

Why Cape Town Should be on Everyone’s Bucket List

“Welcome to the Mother City” is the sign you see when you leave the plane and commence to walking through Cape Town International Airport.  It was a welcome sign!  Let me start first by saying, 7 days is not nearly enough time to experience the mother city, but it was enough time to realize why Cape Town should be on everyone’s ‘Bucket’ List.  Here are my top 5 reasons:
Scenery

Beaches, Mountains, Color, Unique Architecture, and Amazing Wildlife you get it all in Cape Town. But don’t just take my word for it, check out these pictures.

20180403_095414.jpg
The Climb to Table Mountain
IMG_0139
Clouds descending from the Mountain tops over the city
IMG_0152
Greenery
IMG_0229
Views of the City from Signal Hill
IMG_0418
Sun setting over a Game Reserve
IMG_0506
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
IMG_0541
Beautiful Beaches
IMG_0184
Bo-Kaap
IMG_0226.JPG
Glass homes on hills
IMG_0406
Aquila Game Reserve– Rhinos, Zebras
IMG_0549
Penguins at Boulders Beach


Food

I traveled in a group of 6 people with different eating habits, vegan, vegetarian, selectitarian, and carnivores and no-one had to compromise as finding good food was in abundance.

IMG_0169
Vegan Edo wrap
IMG_0171
Mushroom Kabobs at the Old Biscuit Mill
IMG_0174
Avo toast- Old Biscuit Mill
IMG_0175
Paella- Old Biscuit Mill
IMG_0177
Dessert at the Old Biscuit Mill
IMG_0180
Pulled Pork Sandwich- Old Biscuit Mill
20180408_124511.jpg
You read that right, Ostrich Shwarma. They also serve Antelope and Alligator in South Africa, among other game meat
20180406_090833.jpg
Jarryds on Sea Point for Breakfast, Buddha Bowl
20180408_124758-2.jpg
The infamous, Butternut Squash Salad at Tasha’s on the V&A Waterfront

Affordable

One South African Rand is about 0.083 USD, which means American Dollars go very far. Almost every time, our group of 6 dined out, our bill was under $100 usd total. Sometimes it was as low as $50.00. Several times we ate at vegan restaurants and eating vegan is not cheap but it was there. Shopping for authentic hand-maid items was cheap too. We did most of our shopping at the Green Market and on Long street.

20180331_134805-1.jpg
Wine

Cape Town is a renowned wine region so visiting some wineries is a must do while there. We visited 3 in one day, Chamonix, Babylonstoren, and Waterford Estate and enjoyed wine tasting at all of them. Although the wines weren’t my taste (I’m a sweet red kind of girl and most of their wines are dry), it was still an enjoyable experience, especially driving through the wine country. My favorite was Waterford Estate.

IMG_0569

IMG_0570
Chamonix’s wine cellar

IMG_0578

IMG_0581
Babylonstoren glass house setting
IMG_0586
Waterford estate-glamorous
IMG_0591
Wine and Chocolate pairing at Waterford

Culture and History

This country is recovering from an ugly past, but facing it and educating others is a way to prevent it from repeating itself. It’s also a form of therapy. This therapy is evident in the voices of the Robben Island tour guides who were once prisoners there during apartheid.

The culture is seen and heard throughout in the dialects, vibe and food of the African natives. Be still and listen to the voices and the music and visit the museums. Enjoy the colors and diversity all around.

IMG_0439
Former Prisoner now conducting tours at the same place he spent years imprisoned, Robben Island
IMG_0443
Prisoner explaining a picture of Nelson Mandela when he was imprisoned at Robben Island
IMG_0447
Mandela’s cell
IMG_0436
Former Room of Prisoners and old beds

Cape-Town is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve visited. It is diverse in population and landscape. The food is tasty, the music will get you moving and there is no shortage of things to do. If you haven’t already, what are you waiting for… Add it to your list! Thank me later.

Check back to read how I spent my 7 days in Cape Town, Vegan Eats, and Tackling Table Mountain.

IMG_0280

What’s this Expat Been up to…

It’s March 2, which means about 75% of school year number 2 overseas is complete.  It also means I am less than 30 days away from my first trip in over 6 months.  Let me just say, it was extremely hard keeping my feet on the ground for the last 6 months, watching others fly above me.  But I had a goal to meet and that was more important.  Now that, that goal has been met, I can’t even begin to explain how excited I am for this upcoming Spring Break.  I will not reveal where I am going yet, but I will say, it has always been in my top 5.

So what have I been doing, you might ask, since I haven’t been trippen’, a lot actually…

I began this year, training for a 5K.  I’ve always wanted to run a 5K but never stuck with the training.  So I dowloaded the ‘couch to 5K’ app for the 3rd time with determination.  By the end of January, I was ready.  The farthest I’ve run so far has been 4 miles straight in under 50 minutes.  And that is really saying something for this girl that couldn’t run more than 5 minute straight less than 4 months ago.  Everyone knows the  ‘Happiest 5K on the planet’ is the Color Run and I completed it on January 27, 2018.  The weather was perfect and I was amongst thousands of people.  It actually wasn’t a real 5K but I ran the entire 2.65 miles while most people walked.  I felt accomplished!  It was fun but I’ll probably never do it again.

I didn’t particularly like all that color dye being thrown in my face as you can see from this clip;

Indeed I was fighting the colors.

And all that smoke from the colors almost sent me into a panic attack.  Next time, I will just stick with a regular run. But boy was it fun!

Since the color run, I’ve really gotten into fitness.  I even tried my hand at Aerial Yoga.

20180207_202130.jpgI enjoyed the one class I went to, but I did not enjoy the headache I endured afterwards.  So unfortunately, aerial yoga is not for me.  I have been working out 5 days a week for the last few weeks, abs and core classes twice a week, circuit classes once a week and weight lifting the other two days.  The student center at QF offers free classes and I wish I knew about them sooner, because everywhere else charges.

On February 4th, I witnessed my hometown Football team win the Superbowl!  I couldn’t believe I wasn’t home to participate in the festivities.  But I was cheering from afar.      GO  E-A-G-L-E-S, Eagles!!!!

Screenshot_20180205-080432.jpg

There is a huge indoor trampoline park here in Doha called Bounce.  One night they hosted a teachers only night.  Prior to this, I never went out on school nights, but it was for teachers and it was free so why not.  Me and a few of my teacher friends had a damn good time bouncing around like kids.  The next day, we were so sore.  Who would’ve thought jumping around on trampolines would be so exerting?

20180116_181345.jpg

Two week ago I won tickets, from an online sweepstakes with Virgin mobile, to the premiere of Black Panther.  It was so good, that the next day, Darryl and I dressed up in our African attire and went to see it again with the BSOQ Facebook group.  Well I had already purchased tickets to see it on opening night with the group before I won tickets to the premiere but I enjoyed seeing it twice.

I’ve been to two embassies within the last 30 days, but not for the reasons you may be thinking.  For the first time in my life, I gave blood.  I saw on Facebook that the embassy of Sri Lanka was hosting a blood drive and I signed up for it.  They seemed very happy to see us there and surprised to see Americans and a female.  It felt good, well not afterwards, because my arm was sore for days, but helping others felt good.  I went to the Thai embassy for a cultural event they were having.

And of course what would fun in Doha be without Brunch..

And with all this fun, my girlfriend Britney and I with our camera man Quahn managed to shoot our first food show.  Stay tuned for more on that soon.

So as you can see I’ve been pretty busy.  As far as work goes, it has not been the happiest place for me, but I’m not miserable either.  I actually learned to love my students this year, after a rocky start, but they are actually my happy part of the work day.   I don’t fit into a certain box that gets you promoted here and I believe in turn I was turned down for a promotion for which I am highly qualified.  Also, my whole team is different this year and we don’t mesh well.  I could go on and on about what I don’t particularly like about work this year but honestly there is more to being here than work and ultimately I won’t be here forever, but for now, it’s not so bad that I feel the need to leave.  So there is no need to bore you with complaints.  I hate when people complain and complain but don’t change their situation, so since I choose this situation for now, I won’t complain any further.  But if you really want to know what work is like here for this teacher, drop your email in the comments and I will send you some real talk.

Anyway, 28 days ’til my trip, and less than 3 months ’til the end of the school year.  I have managed to find fun things to do outside of traveling but it’s about that time to get another stamp.

20180131_191429.jpg

A picture of the Doha Skyline during the Supermoon

Things I wish my Parents had Taught me About Planning for the Future

So now I’m 40 and it doesn’t make sense to blame my life on my parents, but it does make sense to re-invent myself and teach my children what I wish my parents had taught me. 

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my future and my past.   I’m Forty-Years old, gosh, typing that makes it feel too real.   When you are young, you don’t think about when you’ll be 40.   But now that I am, there are some things that I wished my parents would have told me that maybe could have put me in a different situation.   Maybe I would have listened, possibly not.   When you are young, you think you know everything and most young people live for the day.   That mentality has its pros and cons.

My father, God rest his soul, was a drunk for as long as I can remember.   He and my mother separated when I was still a toddler.   I visited him often and on occasion he gave me money as a young teenager.   At the age of 17, I went to live with him, where I was allowed to do whatever I wanted and he didn’t know anything about parenting.   My mother, was a preschool teacher.   She was a single mother for years but I had a couple of step-fathers too.   She worked two jobs for a long time.   I was much younger than my siblings so I spent a lot of time alone.   When I was 12, she decided to return to her religion and I had to too.   It was a very strict religion, no more holiday celebrations, or friends who weren’t in the same religion.   For a while I was happy, until the later years of high school when the rebel came out and I wanted no parts.   I resented her for taking away the holidays and my childhood friends.   Everything was about the religion with her and college was even discouraged for fear of bad influence and no real need to plan for a future in this current life because there wouldn’t be one.

I’m sure my parents did their best, my childhood wasn’t bad.   I’m grateful to have made it to this age, because I did some really reckless things in my youth and I am not blaming anyone but I really wish my parents had taught me…

The importance of maintaining good credit- Credit saves you money.  The better your credit the less you have to spend up front and in the end.  In the past, I’ve had two repossessions and plenty of small bills that made it to my credit.  Thankfully, they happened early on.  I’ve spent the last two years rebuilding my credit and my credit is pretty good now.

If you get a good job, stick with it and build a retirement fund.  If you get the job while young, stay and retire from it.  You’ll be able to do the job you want without worrying about the pay because you will have money coming in from the job you worked for years.  And you will be one of the youngest people you know, not working so hard at 40.- I’ve been working since I was a teenager.  [My mom did insist on my independence, for that I owe her a great deal of credit.]  I’ve had some good jobs too but I never stayed long, always looking for something else.  Til’ this day, I still have difficulty remaining at any job for more than 4 years.  My mom worked as a teacher until she retired, why didn’t she teach me to do the same? I even worked for the state of PA as a case worker for four years.  The retirement plan was great and I could have retired from there in my early 40’s with a good pension, but no-one told me that.   Instead I left the job to go to college full time, which brings me to my next thought….

Go to college right after high school and get a degree, it gives you options- Had I gone to college right out of high school, perhaps I would not have job-hopped so many times.  I had a full ride scholarship to college but no-one encouraged this, so I got me an apartment instead and a job.  [I got great grades in school.  I was very smart.  My mother stayed on me about those grades too]  I went to college later, after a husband and two kids and with those degrees came so many better opportunities.  At least I went but I could have saved myself a lot of heart ache and pain, had someone, anyone, told me to go early.

Invest, build a portfolio- This is something I’m just educating myself about.  I wish I had invested early, built a portfolio and gave myself future stability.

Marry someone you can grow and build with- Recently I read about a couple that did not marry for love, but for growth instead.  This got me to thinking… this is very smart.  Love fades, but growth keeps moving until you choose to stop it.  I’ve been in relationships where one person is trying to grow and the other is simply content where they are- (Me and my ex-husband)- notice I said ex.  It doesn’t work.  Eventually you grow to resent that person or the two of you grow apart.  It doesn’t feel good.

Budget- So many people live above their means.  Before I moved into my first apartment at age 17, my mom held the money that I saved and my father doubled my total.  It was enough to pay the deposit on my apartment and buy some furniture but I was almost evicted within the first year because no-one taught me to budget.  I still struggle with budgeting but I’ve learned the value of paying my bills on time because the longer I let them go unpaid the more money I have to pay in the long run.  And once you get behind it can be almost impossible to catch up.  Now I save first, pay bills next, purchase what I need, and then decide to save more or enjoy the rest.  Very soon I hope to add invest in there somewhere.

Leave your home and travel- I’ve only ever lived in Philadelphia until I moved to Qatar to teach at age 39.  What a deprived life.  I’ve learned so much since moving abroad about life.   I only remember traveling on the East Coast as a child, and never on a plane.  As an adult, I was scared to death of flying and avoided it until I had no other choice but to fly for job training to take care of my sons while they were young.  I can’t help but to think, if I had been exposed to traveling as a child, that fear would not have engulfed me.  I’m still afraid of flying but I no longer allow that fear to keep me from seeing the world.  And to ensure my sons don’t carry that fear, I’ve taken them on many travels and moved them across the world.  Traveling is the best education anyone can receive, trust me.

Live for today but plan for tomorrow, because before you know it, you’ll be 40

So now I’m 40 and it doesn’t make sense to blame my life on my parents, but it does make sense to re-invent myself and teach my children what I wish my parents had taught me. 

 

What do you wish you had learned earlier in life?